Joyce L. Arnold: Liberal, lesbian, Independent, equality activist, writer.
You’ve likely heard about the various state efforts to impose restrictions on voter registration. In addition to those efforts, there’s also a new non-profit, United in Purpose, with a major voter registration project, Champion the Vote. Writing for Buzzflash at Truthout, Bill Berkowitz has a very interesting piece about this, Watch Out, Democrats: A New Silicon Valley-Funded Group is Preparing to Rock the Conservative Christian Vote. A few excerpts are below, but I encourage you to read the whole thing.
‘As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election,’ Ari Berman recently wrote in Rolling Stone magazine, ‘Republican officials have launched an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008.’ Amongst the methods being put forward in Republican-controlled state houses across the country are initiatives making registering to vote a much more difficult and laborious process.
… Berman reported that ‘Kansas and Alabama now require would-be voters to provide proof of citizenship before registering [while] Florida and Texas made it harder for groups like the League of Women Voters to register new voters [and] Maine repealed Election day voter registration.’
The new restrictions effect groups like the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote, and “has been introduced in six states.” The worst legislation, according to this article, was passed in Florida,
where, ‘anyone who signs up new voters [must] hand in registration forms to the state board of elections within 48 hours of collecting them, and to comply with a barrage of onerous, bureaucratic requirements.’ The submission of late forms would be subject to a $1,000 fine and ‘possible felony prosecution.’
And now there’s United in Purpose, “founded by Silicon Valley venture capitalists, and run by CEO Bill Dallas and COO Reid Rutherford,” and Champion The Vote. Citing an LA Times report, Berkowitz says that “one of its main backers is technology entrepreneur Ken Eldred, a generous Republican donor.” Reading the United in Purpose mission statement and such, all about bringing “Biblical change to America,” it’s a bit difficult not to question Eldred’s comments to the Times:
He told the newspaper that Champion the Vote, ‘did not have a partisan agenda.’ ‘I have the audacity to believe that we can be an influence on both parties,’ Eldred said. ‘I personally believe that someday we’re going to stand before God, and he’s going to pull out a ballot and say, ‘How did you vote in this election?’ And there are going to be people who say, ‘Why do you care about that, God?’ And he’s going to say, ‘Because I created that country and I put you in charge.’’
If that sounds a bit scary, this is more so.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the group, ‘is using sophisticated data-mining techniques to compile a database of every unregistered born-again and evangelical Christian and conservative Catholic in the country.’ …
Although it claims to be non-partisan, United in Purpose has partnered with Christian organizations (including Wildmon’s AFA) and anti-abortion groups in order, ‘to recruit 100,000 ‘champions’ to identify unregistered Christians and get them to the polls as part of its Champion the Vote project,’ the Times reported. ‘Profiles drawn from its database, which numbers more than 120 million people, will enable organizers to target potential voters with emails and web videos tailored to their interests.
Organizing is something the Right, maybe especially the “Religious Right,” is very good at doing. Remember the Christian Coalition, starting at local and state elections, building an enormous base, and mailing list? Distributing “Voter Guides” to church members? There’s no guarantee United in Purpose effort will be successful, but there are definitely reasons to take it seriously.
Berkowitz cites Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches, who wrote that “United in Purpose, ‘will host ‘One Nation Under God’ house parties, at which participants will watch video of speakers including Perry, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and the religious right historian David Barton.’”
And about the voter registration restrictions …
The League of Women Voters will not be carrying out registration efforts in Florida, and a Rock the Vote spokesperson has said that they will try to continue its work, but that there were no guarantees that it could.
I suppose for Champion the Vote folks, this is all about, as their “core mission” states, efforts “to change American culture for the good, with the Bible as our standard of truth.” Probably it’s just a coincidence that their actions seem to fit the GOP efforts to make Obama a one-termer. Well okay, no. It isn’t a coincidence. It’s much more likely that they see making Obama a one-termer as an answer to “what would Jesus do?”